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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles may have not made the Super Bowl, but one Bird is leaving Atlanta with some hardware. Defensive end Chris Long was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year.
The award is given annually to “an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.”
Here are just a few of Long’s most recent charitable efforts. Check out a full list here.
- In 2018, Long established the First Quarter for Literacy program, which provides underserved Philadelphia families with free books, literary resources and mentoring services.
- In 2017, Long donated first six game checks to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. He donated the final 10 checks to programs that promote educational equality in St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia.
- Long launched Waterboys, his humanitarian program that “unites professional athletes and sports fans to raise funds and awareness to provide clean drinking water to East African communities in need.”
To date, Waterboys has raised more than $3 million and funded 55 clean-water wells that provide water for over 200,000 people.
During his two seasons with the Eagles, Long has generated $2.25 million donations to educational equity programs, according to the Eagles.
Long released a statement, thanking the fans, community and his peers:
“I am honored to be named the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and to join the long line of men who have received this prestigious honor,” Long said. “While I am officially accepting this award, we would not be able to accomplish our goals without the support and participation of countless other individuals. I am humbled by the support we have received from my peers who have donated to our various matching-campaigns, the commitment and perseverance displayed by the veterans who have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with me each year, and the generosity of our fans who have made vital contributions to our foundation over the years. I am incredibly thankful that football has provided me with a platform to give back and I am proud that so many of my colleagues have decided to use this stage to create positive and impact change in our local communities and around the world.”
Long beat out 31 other nominees, one from each team. It’s Long’s second time winning the coveted award. He also won in 2015 as a member of the Rams.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie called Long “one of the finest individuals that I have ever encountered during my 25 years in the National Football League.”
“Chris’ on-field contributions and his presence in the locker room were instrumental in our success over the last two seasons and I will always be grateful for the role he played in bringing the City of Philadelphia its first Super Bowl Championship,” Lurie continued.
The Chris Long Foundation will receive a $250,000 donation as part of the award, as well as a $250,000 donation to the United Way in Long’s name.
Long signed with the Eagles in 2017 and was an integral part of the Birds’ first Super Bowl win in franchise history in Super Bowl 52.